1 - My rights during the investigation of a crime

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How and where can I report a crime?

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

What are my rights as a witness?

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

Can I receive legal aid?

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

Are there opportunities to reach settlement/conciliation or to start mediation between the offender and myself?

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

I am a foreigner. How are my rights and interests protected?

More information

How and where can I report a crime?

If you have become a victim of a crime you can report it to the public prosecutor or to the police. You can also ask someone else to report the crime, in which case you need to sign a written declaration indicating the person who will file the report for you. There is no specific form for the declaration, but you should sign it either before an official from a public or municipal authority or before a lawyer (including your own lawyer, if you already have one). The person reporting the crime for you may be a lawyer or any other person you trust.

You can also report a crime when the victim was your spouse, your child or your parent and he/she died as a consequence of the offence.

You can report a crime orally or in writing. If you choose to provide the information orally, the official accepting your statement will write a report.

You have to pay a fee of 10 euro for the submission of your complaint. In exceptional cases you will be allowed to pay the fee after the submission of the complaint but not later than three days.

You can submit your complaint only in Greek. If you do not speak Greek you can use an interpreter, but you have to pay for his/her services. At this stage, an interpreter free of charge is foreseen for victims of human trafficking.

When the authorities in charge prosecute the crime, even you do not ask for it, there is no deadline for reporting a crime. In cases where the crime can be prosecuted only at your specific request, (see below), you must file a complaint to the court within three months of learning the crime and the offender (if known). However, for all crimes there are certain time limits (from one up to twenty years depending on the seriousness of the crime) after which the authorities will accept your report but may refuse to start proceedings.

There is no obligatory form that you need to follow when filing your report. There is a template which you will be given to fill in, but it is only for your convenience and it is up to you to decide whether to follow it or not.

In practice, what you need to include in your report is:

  • your name, address and contact details;
  • the offender and his/her contact details, if you know them;
  • description of what exactly happened and, if you know it, the applicable article of the Criminal Code;
  • your request to the public prosecutor to investigate the case;
  • the appointment of a lawyer;
  • witnesses proposed to be interviewed, if any.

In very few cases reporting a crime may not oblige the police or the public prosecutor to open proceedings. These are cases of minor crimes where you as a victim have to participate in the proceedings instead of the public prosecutor. In such cases you need to a file a complaint to the court not later than three months after you have learned about the crime and the offender (if known). The complaint should be written in Greek and you have to pay a fee of 10 euro for its submission. In exceptional cases you will be allowed to pay the fee after the submission of the complaint but not later than three days.

How can I follow up on what the authorities do after I report a crime?

After the submission of the report you will receive a reference number. Using this reference number, you can check the special register kept by the public prosecutor’s office to see what has been done on your case. You can also ask for and receive a certificate indicating what the situation with your case is.

If your case reaches court your lawyer can also check how the case is proceeding through the website of the Athens Bar Association at Link opens in new windowhttp://www.dsa.gr/ (for cases brought before the Athens Court of First Instance). You cannot check the website yourself because it requires a password.

How can I be involved in the investigation of the crime?

When you report a crime you can be heard by the public prosecutor who examines your case. Also, in case that a preliminary examination (before investigation) takes place, you might be asked to appear before the authorities for an interview. You may also be asked to appear again before the public prosecutor or a police officer for an interview before the opening of the investigation.

Once an investigation has been opened you will be called for an interview as a witness.

You can also take part in the investigation of the crime by becoming a civil claimant (1). Becoming a civil claimant will allow you to use the criminal proceedings to claim compensation from the offender for the damages you have suffered as a result of the crime. You can become a civil claimant by submitting a declaration to the prosecutor or police officer in charge of your case. You can do this when you report the crime or later at any time until the end of the investigation. You can send the declaration to the public prosecutor or police officer in charge of your case or simply give it to them when you are interviewed as a witness.

In the declaration you need to include a short description of what happened, why you wish to become a civil claimant and the appointment of a lawyer if you reside in a place different from the location of the court which will examine your case. If you do not include this information your claim will not be examined. You also need to pay a fee of 10 euro.

As a civil claimant you can:

  • be present at all investigative actions on your case (apart from during the questioning of the defendant and of the witnesses who will be heard again during the trial);
  • ask questions and make remarks during the investigative actions;
  • be heard before any decision is made on your case, e.g. a decision to issue an arrest warrant;
  • have access to the entire documentation of the case;
  • make copies of the documents at your own expense.

You do not need to prove anything related to the crime you have suffered from. This is a responsibility of the public prosecutor and the police officer in charge of your case. If you wish, you can present evidence or ask for the collection of evidence you consider relevant to your case.

What are my rights as a witness?

If you have to be interviewed as a witness the public prosecutor or the police officer in charge of your case will send you an invitation. After receiving the invitation you have to appear before the public prosecutor or the police officer. During the interview you will be invited to say what happened and may be asked to respond to additional questions. You can refuse to testify if you are a relative of the alleged offender.

If you have hearing or speech impediments the interview can be conducted in writing. If you do not speak Greek you are entitled to an interpreter free of charge.

After your interview you can ask the public prosecutor or the police officer in charge of your case to reimburse you for the costs related to your testimony (travel, accommodation, lost remuneration, etc.).

I am a minor. Do I have additional rights?

If you are a minor (under 18 years of age) and you have suffered from a crime your parent or guardian can report the crime for you. If you are older than 12 years of age you can also report the crime yourself.

If you are a minor you have additional rights but they depend on the crime you have suffered from. Additional rights are available only to minor victims of human trafficking, abduction and sexual offences. If you are a victim of one of these crimes you can:

  • review the documents of the case even if you have not become a civil claimant;
  • receive information about the release of the offender;
  • use the assistance of a psychologist when interviewed as a witness;
  • have your interview recorded so that the record can be used during the proceedings, relieving you from the obligation to appear again before the public prosecutor or the court.

If you are a child victim of sexual abuse you can receive physical and psychological support and legal assistance. Psychological support is also available to the members of your family. Before getting support you need to undergo a psychological and physical examination. This is necessary to evaluate what medical therapy would be most appropriate for you. You can also ask the police officer or the prosecutor in charge of your case to forbid any communication between the offender and you or to ban the offender from visiting the area you live in.

What information can I obtain from police or victim support organisations during the investigation of the crime?

The law does not oblige the prosecutor and the police to provide you with information on the rights you have during the investigation. Nevertheless, you can check the documentation of your case. To do this, you need to become a civil claimant (1).

Can I receive legal aid?

During the investigation you can use the assistance of a lawyer but you need to pay for his/her services. You are allowed to use a maximum of two lawyers.

You can use legal aid free of charge depending on your income and the crime you have suffered from. You will be provided with a lawyer free of charge only if you have suffered from a serious violent crime (torture, discrimination, bodily injury, sexual offence, etc.) and your yearly family income is less than two-thirds of the minimum annual wage rate defined by the National General Collective Labour Agreement.

You will receive legal aid free of charge irrespective of your income only if you are:

  • a victim of human trafficking or domestic violence; or
  • a victim of a sexual offence under 18 years of age.

The lawyer appointed for you will help you prepare and submit the necessary documents to become a civil claimant (1) and will assist you throughout the proceedings thereafter.

How can I get protection, if I am in danger?

You can get protection depending on the crime you have suffered from and your role in the criminal proceedings.

If you are a victim of organised crime or terrorism and you have been called for an interview as a witness during the investigation you can ask for special protection. Depending on the case, the protection you will receive may include police protection, anonymity (nondisclosure of your name, place of birth, home and work address, job and age, etc.), and interview through visual or sound transmission. If you work for a governmental agency, you can also ask for relocation to another position.

If you are a victim of domestic violence the police are obliged not to reveal your identity and the identity of the offender. Police officers dealing with the investigation of your case must not disclose in any way your name, address or any other detail that can reveal your identity.

What services and assistance can I be given during the investigation of the crime?

You can receive special services and assistance only if you are of victim of specific crimes such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, human trafficking, etc.

If you are a victim of domestic violence you can ask the police officers dealing with your case to give you information about the authorities and organisations offering help. The police will also inform the authorities and organisations about your case so that you can receive help immediately when you get in contact with them.

If you are a victim of human trafficking you can ask for and receive information about the authorities and organisations offering assistance and protection such as consultation centres, medical centres, shelters for men, women and children, etc.

You can receive medical assistance free of charge only if you have a valid health insurance. Citizens of the 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can benefit from the Link opens in new windowEuropean Health Insurance Card.

Are there opportunities to reach settlement/conciliation or to start mediation between the offender and myself?

If you are a victim of domestic violence, instead of going to trial your case may end up with conciliation between you and the offender. During the investigation the prosecutor may invite you to reconcile with the offender. Receiving such an invitation by the prosecutor means that the offender has already agreed to reconcile with you and has promised that he/she will abstain from such behaviour in the future, will stay away from home for a reasonable time if necessary, will attend a consulting or therapeutic programme and will compensate the damages caused.

You are free not to agree with the proposed conciliation, in which case the criminal proceedings will continue. If you agree to reconcile with the offender the criminal proceedings will stop for three years. During this period, if the offender does not break his/her promise the case will be closed. Otherwise it will continue as if conciliation has never happened.

How will my case continue after the end of the investigation?

After completing the investigation, the police officer in charge of your case will forward it to the public prosecutor. Before that, if you are a civil claimant (1), you will be informed about the conclusion of the investigation. At that point, if you wish you can check the documents collected so far. To be informed and examine the file you need to reside at the same place where the investigation has taken place. Otherwise you need to appoint a lawyer residing in that place and he/she will receive the notification for you.

The public prosecutor will examine the collected materials and will send them to the court together with his/her proposal how the case should proceed further. The prosecutor may propose to the court that a trial be started or closed.

If you have become a civil claimant, before sending the case to the court the prosecutor will invite you to get acquainted with his/her proposal. This is done only if you reside in the same place as the court that will hear your case or if you have appointed a lawyer residing there. After you receive the invitation, you (or your lawyer) need to go and check the proposal within 24 hours. If you do not reside at the same place as the court and you have not appointed a lawyer residing there you still have the opportunity to see the proposal even if it has been sent to the court. A copy of it is available at the secretariat of the prosecutor’s office.

After the court receives the file from the prosecutor it will decide whether to open a trial or to close the case. If you have become a civil claimant during the investigation, the prosecutor will send a copy of the court’s decision to you.

The session in which the court examines the prosecutor’s proposal is not public and takes place in the Judicial Council. However, the Judicial Council may summon you to give some clarifications. If you find it necessary, you can also ask the Judicial Council to invite you to explain your arguments. In any case, if new documents or evidence have been included in the case that you are not familiar with, the court will invite you to see them and will give you a deadline for presenting comments or remarks.

Can I appeal if my case is closed without reaching the court?

When you report a crime the prosecutor can decide not to prosecute the case at all. In this case you will receive a copy of the prosecutor’s decision. You can appeal against it within 15 days. Your appeal must be addressed to the prosecutor at the Court of Appeals.

If proceedings have started, the case can be closed before the trial by the Judicial Council examining the prosecutor’s proposal after the completion of the investigation. You can appeal against such a decision if the crime you have suffered from is a serious one, i.e. punishable by more than five years' imprisonment. To file an appeal you need to have become a civil claimant (1) during the investigation.

After the publication of the Judicial Council decision you will have 10 days to submit the appeal. If you reside abroad you can submit the appeal within 30 days of receiving the copy of the decision. These deadlines do not apply to the month of August.

Alternatively, instead of filing your own appeal, you can ask the prosecutor to appeal against the Judicial Council decision.

I am a foreigner. How are my rights and interests protected?

If you are a foreigner you can benefit from some additional rights aimed at facilitating your participation. If you do not understand Greek, you have the right to receive all the information about your case in a language you understand.

During the investigation, if you have become a civil claimant (1) or you have been summoned for an interview as a witness you will be provided with an interpreter free of charge.

If you reside abroad you can also benefit from an extended deadline (30 days) to appeal against the Judicial Council’s decision to close the case after the end of the investigation. This deadline does not run in the month of August.

If you are a citizen or a permanent resident of a Member State of the European Union you can receive legal aid during the investigation. You will be provided with a lawyer free of charge if you have suffered from a serious violent crime (torture and other offences of human dignity, discrimination, bodily injury, sexual offences, etc.) and your yearly income is less than two-thirds of the minimum annual wage rate defined by the National General Collective Labour Agreement.

More information

  • Criminal Code (Ποινικός Κώδικας) – in Greek
  • Code of Criminal Procedure (Κώδικας Ποινικής Δικονομίας) – in Greek
  • Law 3226/2004 on legal assistance to citizens with low income (Νόμoς 3226/2004 Νοµική βοήθεια σε πολίτες χαµηλού εισοδήματος και άλλες διατάξεις)
  • Law 3500/2006 on domestic violence (Νόμος 3500/2006 Για την αντιμετώπιση της ενδοοικογενειακής βίας και άλλες διατάξεις)
  • Presidential Decree 233/2003 on protection and assistance to victims of the crimes of articles 323, 323A, 349, 351 and 351A of the Criminal Code (Προεδρικό Διάταγμα 233/2003 Προστασία και Αρωγή στα θύματα των εγκλημάτων των άρθρων 323, 323Α, 349, 351 και 351Α του Ποινικού Κώδικα κατά το άρθρο 12 του Ν. 3064/2002
  • Presidential Decree 254/2004 Code of Conduct of Police Officers (Προεδρικό Διάταγμα 254/2004 Κώδικας Δεοντολογίας του Αστυνομικού)
Note:

1. Civil claimant
The civil claimant is a person who has suffered damage (property and/or psychological and/or physical) as a result of a crime and participates in the criminal proceedings claiming financial compensation including compensation for moral harm or pain and suffering from the offender. As a victim of crime you can become a civil claimant by submitting a declaration during the investigation or during the trial. During the investigation you can present your claim to the prosecutor or the police officer in charge of your case. During the trial you can submit your declaration and present your claim directly to the court. Your declaration should be written in Greek. There is no special form you need to follow but the declaration has to include a short report of the case, the reasons on which your right to participate as a civil claimant is based and the appointment of a proxy in case you do not reside permanently at the place of the court. Otherwise, your declaration will be inadmissible.
You can also claim compensation from the offender by starting a separate case in a civil court. If you have started such a case and the court has not decided on it yet, you can submit the same claim in the criminal proceedings. The consequence is that the case before the civil court will be closed.

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Last update: 08/06/2016